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Gujarat High court notice over lion deaths, asks Centre, state to explain

Of the 32 lions that died due to unnatural causes, Vasava told the assembly that 20 died in 2017 while the others died in 2016

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Gujarat High court notice over lion deaths, asks Centre, state to explain
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The Gujarat High court on Monday issued notices to the Centre and state government seeking an explanation in the matter concerning the death of 184 lions in the state in the last two years.

The notice was issued after the court took suo motu cognisance of media reports of lion deaths. The reports came after the Gujarat government on March 5 informed the state assembly that in all the state had lost 184 lions in 2016 and 2017 of which 32 were due to 'unnatural' causes.

A division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi issued notices to the state and the Centre, returnable on March 18. The bench wanted to know the reason behind the high number of deaths and the steps taken to arrest the same.

Forest minister Ganpat Vasava had in a reply to the assembly earlier in March stated that of the of the total 184 lion deaths in and around Gir sanctuary in the two years, 104 occurred in 2016 while the rest were in 2017.

Of the 32 lions that died due to unnatural causes, Vasava told the assembly that 20 died in 2017 while rest of the death was recorded in 2016.

The minister had blamed wells without parapet walls as one of the primary reasons for the unnatural death of lions.He had said that the animals often fell inside this unguarded wells and lost their lives.

The other reasons included road accidents, railway tracks passing through the forest areas and electric fences around agricultural lands meant to keep pests like Nilgai and wild boars out. At that time, the minister had also elaborated on the steps taken by the government to protect the wild cats. This included securing several open wells in the forest, building speed breakers on public roads that passed through the sanctuary and fencing the railway tracks that passed through areas with a sizeable lion population, particularly Amreli district.

It should be noted that Gir Sanctuary and its surroundings are the last abode of the Asiatic lion. The 2015 census had pegged the lion numbers in Gujarat at 523.

MINISTER’S REPLY

  • Of the 32 lions that died due to unnatural causes, Vasava told the assembly that 20 died in 2017 while the others died in 2016.
     
  • Other reasons included road accidents, railway tracks passing through the forest areas and electric fences around agricultural lands.
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